When I was a young(ish) lad in the mid-eighties I used to love King Diamond. I was a big fan, not so much of the marmite vocals but of the way each album told an original horror story from beginning to end. I used to slap the record on my dad’s hifi and sit there following the story through the gorgeous lyric booklets you got with those original vinyl pressings. No one else really did what KD did. Sure there were concept albums all over the place (Queensryche’s “Operation Mindcrime” probably being the absolute best ever) but no one did the weird mix of HP Lovecraft, Hammer Horror & Scooby Doo quite like the Danes.
The Grotesquery absolutely nailed it though on their series of four (so far) albums and Nattravnen are, on paper at least, quite similar to The Grotesquery. Both feature Official Death Metal Legend Kam Lee on vocals and both feature a Swedish bloke on guitars and other noise. Obviously it was Rogga Johansson in the Grotesquery and for Nattravnen we have Jonny Pettersson (Wombbath / Henry Kane / Just Before Dawn / Gods Forsaken / Heads For The Dead and a dozen other projects…..seriously…..must be something in the Swedish DNA).
Kam absolutely nails what I reckon is one of his creepiest and moodiest performances yet here. Jonny’s created a sonic maelstrom that is equal parts death & black metal in tone and yet the two combine to produce one of the most unique albums of 2018. Kam has written a story about the legend of the night raven….a creature of European folklore that was used by parents to ensure their kids went to bed at night…… obviously Kam has expanded on this somewhat and turned the “dark & scary” dial up to 11.
Jonny’s riffing is quite the departure from say Rogga’s more Swedeath style. No less expressive though and he has an air of melancholy to his playing at times which is really original (check out Henry Kane for more of this). The atmosphere Kam and Jonny concoct here is brilliant, dark oppressive and doomy one minute – blasting pure DM the next. This genuinely keeps you engaged ensures plenty of repeat spins.
It’s hard to pick out a stand out track on an album like this but “Suicidium” is super catchy and has some totally killer riffs piled up in it but every track here flows together so well that it’s hard to recommend one or two when really you should be listening to the whole thing….in headphones…..reading Kams lyrics….on your parents floor……just like in the 80’s!
(9/10 Mark Eve)